Zion Chapel plans to raise the ‘Black Flag’ against Wicksburg

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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The Zion Chapel Rebels (1-1) open Class 2A, Region 2 action this Friday, Sept. 8, as they welcome in the Wicksburg Panthers (0-2) to Jack.

Zion Chapel is coming off a 35-7 loss to Goshen last week. Despite the loss, head coach Cody Keene saw improvement.

“It’s just one of those deals where I felt like we played hard but we still made a lot of mistakes,” Keene said. “We didn’t make as many mistakes from a scheme or assignment standpoint but we made mistakes in terms of execution, dropped balls with guys running open, things like that.

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“We also had a couple of untimely penalties and we have to cut those things out. The kids are playing really hard and we’re getting really close to being a good football team. We still have a million miles to go at the same time, if that makes any sense.”

Wicksburg, meanwhile, has dropped both of its games this season to bigger schools, 28-13 to Class 3A Houston Academy and 21-20 to Class 5A Rehobeth.

“Wicksburg is very similar to what they were last year, they’re a tough and physical bunch,” Keene said. “They started out 0-2 last year and ended up going on a run and winning a playoff game. They’ve built their program in a similar manner to the way we’re trying to build ours, through the weight room.

“You can see it in their kids and the physicality and toughness and high effort they play with. Every week in our region we’ll see teams like this.”

Wicksburg holds a 13-8 lead against Zion Chapel in the series between the two schools, including six consecutive wins dating back to 1991. The Panthers won last year’s matchup 42-12. Before that, the two sides had not met since 1995.

In 2022, Keene preached a “Black Flag Mentality” – a never give up mentality – to get his players to raise a black flag, rather than a white flag. This mentality is what he hopes to see from his team against Wicksburg.

“We need to match their toughness level. It will be big boy football and whoever can lay it on the line and who will be willing to pay the price and go the extra mile effort wise will win,” he said. “We’re still a ‘Black Flag’ team. We have to raise a black flag in the first quarter and get after someone’s throat. That’s what I want to see out of our guys.”

Zion Chapel hosts Wicksburg this Friday at 7 p.m. at Greene Memorial Stadium in Jack.